The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review

It’s time to sit down and have a difficult discussion about Tears of the Kingdom. I know that you’ve heard from just about every source how this is the game of the year, one of the best games of all time, etc. Well I’m here to let you down gently because it did not reach those heights. I would argue that the first game actually defeats it overall. Tears of the Kingdom ultimately tried to be too ambitious and tried too many things with a lot of them not working out. That’s the big problem here and I say this as someone who has always been a big Legend of Zelda fan. It just wasn’t ready for this and I think the series should go back to the really big story based titles like Skyward Sword. The open world format is cool but it needs extensive fixes.

Well first off the story starts with Zelda and Link exploring some ruins. Unfortunately this does go very well and Zelda goes missing, lost into the winds. Link wakes up on the sky islands and needs to find a way to get going. He must save Princess Zelda from Ganondorf who has returned to destroy the world. Link will need to meet up with various friends and allies as he reawakens the Master Sword and saves the day but can he do this?

Lets talk about some of my issues with the game. First up, they kept the whole breakable weapons mechanic. So every few swings your weapons are going to keep on shattering. Over and over and over again. Yes you now have the ability to fuse weapons with objects which is a new mechanic to the game but this only delays the inevitable as they will both be destroyed before long. The only exception is the Master Sword which still breaks but it will eventually regenerate. This is a mechanic that should have been removed by now because all it really does is force some extra length into the game instead of just letting you have fun. I don’t know about you but I want to have fun and I want to have fun now!!

Then there is the new Ultrahand mechanic to which a large part of the game is built around. With this you can lift up almost any object in the game. This helps a lot with puzzles and such as you jump from platform to platform. The thing is, it’s not a mechanic that is super fun to use. I think it could have been in small doses like using it once in a while but having to do it constantly is something else. Building objects and such is good fun at time but the game is too focused on having you do it all the time. As it is you don’t have much time to just play the game.

You maybe fight someone once every few hours but for the mot part you’re doing a lot of running and map exploring. I managed to scope out almost the whole Depths can a fairly early period in the game and likewise opened up the lighthouses. It is really good to be able to see the map at least and they didn’t exaggerate about the overall size of the kingdom. The game is absolutely massive and it would take forever to run from one side to the other. It is absolutely impressive and I’ll give the egame credit there. They just should have skipped the overall gimmicks so all of the different styles would be gone and you’re just having fun with combat.

The actual combat is smooth but it feels like that is rarely something you need to do. Aside from the occasional boss you don’t have much incentive to take down the minions. You can get some material for beating them but not much. So you’re just going to be doing a lot of running instead and probably getting stuck at some point by those puzzles. I certainly got stuck plenty of times. In the end it took me 55 hours to complete the game and I feel like a good chunk of that was running around in circles because I didn’t know where to go.

There are a ton of sidequests and bonus content to access but most of them are behind puzzles as well so get ready to try and figure those out. Additionally don’t forget that you have to complete a bunch of shrines to get the stars needed to level up your health and stamina. The game may try to present itself as a rue open world where you can make any choices you want but that isn’t always the case. For example there is one boss that you can’t reach unless you get past a stamina door and to do that you had to buy at least 5 stamina upgrades. I wanted to max out hearts and that’s what I had been doing but this forced me to change gears.

Also I believe the open world is to blame for this game not having much in the story. After each temple they play the same cutscene over and over again and just zoom in on a different character depending on the temple. It means that the game froze the progression right here and that’s no good. By the time you get to the end of the game it really doesn’t feel like there was a ton of story that you got through.

At least the climax was a lot of fun though. Lin’s battle stance where he gets ready and the Master Sword lights up was brilliant. That was a great moment all around and is exactly what you like to see in a AAA title. Link has been through a lot but when the going gets tough he is always ready to hang in there. The battle involves a lot of dodging and parrying so you do need to really be on point here. Especially since I had used up all of my hearts earlier thanks to the gloom. I had to beat the final boss and the various phases without taking any hits to my hearts. It took me over 2 hours of trying over and over again but eventually I did manage to succeed.

That was easily the highlight of the game for me because I did feel good in conquering that challenge. I’d argue that the game design wasn’t the best to put you in such a rough circumstance since I feel like most wouldn’t be able to pull that off. Of course there is extra gear and food that you could have gotten to avoid that which is worth noting. The game really wants you to stick around and try all of the content so you can go into the final boss well prepared. It’s a noble goal and I know there is a lot to the game but at the end of the day there just isn’t enough to keep you here. Once you complete the game then you are likely out.

The soundtrack is definitely more on the forgettable side but I suppose I wouldn’t say that it’s bad. You just don’t feel like you will need to Youtube the themes afterwards. The graphics are definitely great here. I would have liked to have had Link’s classic green tunic throughout the game though. Lately it feels like that costume doesn’t appear enough even though it’s the best one. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere in the mode but I was hoping I would get it for the final boss.

Nobody can say that the game is short though. 55 hours just to complete the campaign is really impressive and in terms of overall content I wouldn’t be surprised if this is around 100-150 hours. There is so much to do here. The game can also be fun when you are just relaxing and not having to do anything. The problem is that the game reminds you of what’s coming all the time. Just when you’re unwinding the game throws another puzzle at you or some kind of cryptic clue. You simply can’t escape it.

This all sounds pretty negative so just for the record the reason why I would still call the game good is because the gameplay itself is good. The combat is on point and I enjoy the parrying system. The characters are good and the story is solid when it appears with a cinematic once in a while. You will get real annoyed on many occasions and will need to put the game down for a while since long batches can hurt the experience but at the end of the day it’s a game that you won’t regret buying.

Overall, Tears of the Kingdom is one of the weaker Legend of Zelda games for me but I will applaud it on really trying to be as ambitious as possible. It is a huge game but the gimmicks just ended up bringing the experience down. Sometimes less is more and just letting me fight the enemies without having to worry about things would have been great. I want more story and more action next time. Throw those things into the game and I would enjoy it a whole lot more. I would still recommend the game if you want to travel through the kingdom and have fun. I’m confident that you will have a good time here but you will also get irritated at times so definitely keep that in mind. The game is very much a rollercoaster.

Overall 6/10

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Review

This film has certainly been a very long time coming but I can confirm that it delivers in every way. This is the kind of sequel you like to see where it improves upon everything from the original. The first Spider-Verse film was really good and now this one I can safely call elite. It’s a really thrilling film all the way through with an impressive cast of characters and the fight scenes are excellent. It’s not likely that you will see any other films in theaters this year that will be able to match these fight scenes unless you are checking out an anime movie.

The movie starts off with a fairly long prologue focused on Gwen and the events that led her up to the movie. It’s a really effective origin story here and it’s also fairly lengthy so there is really time for the moments to sink in. I love it when the movie title doesn’t show up for a while to let you know that everything you just saw was the intro. That was handled really effectively here to the point where you might think Gwen was the main character for a moment.

Then we come to the main plot. Miles has been Spiderman for a long while now and at this point he’s definitely a seasoned veteran. Unfortunately it has become harder and harder to balance his personal and professional lives. His parents are starting to get worried but Miles isn’t ready to tell them about his secret identity yet. When the Spot shows up along with a ton of other Spidermen, Miles is going to have to make a choice and find out where he really wants to belong. With the other Spidermen or with his family.

Lets jump on some of the really strong aspects of the film first. First off is the animation because that was really top tier. You don’t see this level of speed and intensity in just about any American animation. It’s extremely rare and this would hold its own with some anime. The fights allow you to feel just how strong Miles is with how quickly everyone is zipping about and each fighter has their own strengths. My favorite fight in the film is definitely the big team battle with the Spot but there are a lot of good fights to enjoy throughout the film. The opening battle with the Vulture was also solid and he put up a really good fight considering how the odds were. It lets you understand just how strong Spiderman’s villains are even when he is dominating in a fight.

There are a lot of really fun transitions here from scene to scene and I liked the captions for thoughts and also character introductions. Those were handled well like they were straight out of a comic which is the entire idea. Then you have the excellent soundtrack. Each character and universe have their own themes which fit the setting but additionally the instrumental themes for the fights were really good. There was always a quick tempo for each battle which served to enhance the scene even further. The movie definitely did not hold back in terms of the technicals.

Of course the writing was not lagging either as this is a very well written movie. In a lot of ways Flashpoint did a lot of damage with the message it was getting out about not being able to defy destiny and sacrificing the one for the many. This film’s taking the opposite approach in clearly portraying that you can always shape your own future and a big part of Miles’ character development is really relying on his own strengths and judgment. If you know that something’s wrong then it doesn’t matter if anyone agrees with you, you have to do your best to hang in there and do what you gotta do.

The characters are all developed well but in particular Gwen and Miles get the bulk of the scenes here. Gwen is mainly trying to internalize all of the issues that she is going through and naturally this does lead to some troubles for her down the line. Quick avoidance leads to slow troubles after all and her issues are continuing to grow in the background. She makes her share of mistakes in the film to be sure but is someone trying to do her best throughout. Gwen’s a very charismatic character and someone who is easy to root for so she’s definitely a standout here.

My favorite character ended up being Miles who in a lot of ways is also trying to deal with all of the issues on his own. It does take some to really trust anyone enough to talk about issues especially when you’re Spiderman but he’s definitely just about ready for that. He goes up against some really tough odds during the film but keeps on going. I also appreciate that he has a lot of self confidence and isn’t listening to the other characters who keep trying to get him to quit. He also gets a lot of witty banter the way you would expect a Spiderman to have.

Peter Parker doesn’t get to appear a whole lot this time though. Ultimately this is Miles’ film and how he is working on being the best Spiderman he can be so it makes sense not to give Peter a huge role so he doesn’t take that away from the kid. Peter’s not the best in this film so I’m looking forward to seeing him make a comeback in the sequel. It’s time for Peter to find his own confidence and make the right moves instead of being a bystander.

Throughout the film I only had 2 main issues which are not big enough to hurt the film but are still worth noting. Both basically come about due to the scope of the film. The first is a power level issue involving the thousands of Spidermen in the film. As you saw in the trailer they get mobilized at sone point and I don’t care how good any individual Spiderman is, you’re not lasting more than a second against those numbers. So there are large scenes where you just don’t believe what’s happening at all because escape just wasn’t an option at that point. You simply won’t believe that it is possible.

The other issue is really just that most of the Spidermen don’t act like Spiderman. In theory the vast majority of these should be reasonable Peter Parkers and yet they blindly obey orders without really questioning them. Of course that’s going to happen in a plot like this but as the writer your job is to work around that. There should definitely have been some good ways to avoid the scenario so everyone stays in character. If necessary you do the old mind control trick. It’s perhaps not the most original one out there but it does the job. So those were my two issues plot-wise at least and it’s funny that they’re both basically relating to the same scenes.

Otherwise the film really didn’t make any big mistakes and was really solid all throughout. The writing is great whether it be for the serious moments or the fun ones. The Spot is a really solid villain here and I liked him pretty much from the Jump. His powers are incredibly versatile and this is not someone that just any hero could deal with. It’s why Spiderman is a good foe for him because the web slinging allows him to stay close. A normal land based hero would likely be too slow to actually keep up with this guy. The Spot is also very determined and holds a grudge, both of which are very good attributes for a villain.

Then we have the other villain in Spiderman 2099. Yeah I’m going to call him a villain because at the end of the day your intentions don’t matter as much as the actions. Just ask Thanos and Garou. This guy has lost sight of what it means to be a Spiderman but he’s still a very cool character. In terms of design I would also say that he has the best looking outfit out of all the characters. He looks really intimidating the whole time. The guy’s super tall and buff. Throw in that his costume also has claws and that Miguel himself has fangs and yeah you don’t really want to cross this guy.

There are loads of other Spider characters running around but only a few more important ones. One is Ben, but his fans will likely be dismayed at how he looks. The guy’s basically a big joke the whole time who is as incompetent as possible. Be prepared for him to get slapped around by everybody. Then you have a Spiderwoman driving around on a motorcycle. She was my least favorite character because of how unreasonable she was the whole time. It feels like almost all of her lines are threats in the film. Additionally I’m just going to be direct and say it, fighting while super pregnant seems very irresponsible. A single hit to the baby and that’s game over.

You see some heroes try to do this now and again but it never seems like a good idea. Particularly in this scenario where there are thousands of other heroes who can help out in the meantime. Then you have the Indian Spiderman who’s a lot of fun. I like how he uses the webs with an object of sorts to focus them. It’s a unique fighting style right there. Then you have Hobie who likes to defy the system and was easily the most independent thinker out of all of them. This was someone who was not going to just obey all of the rules and I definitely appreciated that. He may not have been around as long as he could have but his scenes left an impact.

The film’s cliffhanger isn’t quite as dire as you may have been expecting but it’s still a cliffhanger all the same. I’m thinking they wanted to leave this as a more cheerful ending so it wouldn’t be too intense for younger viewers since this film is still in theory aimed a bit younger than something like Fast X. So the audience is given an out by the end here when it could have ended like a minute or two sooner and had a completely different vibe. It’s a really hype ending either way though and you’ll be ready for part 2. There’s definitely a lot left to happen and I’m expecting some really big fights. In theory part 2 will have even more action than this one.

Of course a lot of the fun here is in picking out all the cameos and there are definitely a ton of them all throughout. Ranging from TV shows to video games to movies, just about every Spiderman is here. It really goes to show just how many there have been over the years. Spiderman’s a household name for good reason after all.

I should also give a quick shoutout to Miles’ parents before ending the film because they were really solid the whole time. They’re dealing with a whole lot from their end as well with Miles always vanishing and running off. His cover stories aren’t always the most convincing either so it feels like he’s going through some kind of rebellious phase that he can’t clue them in on. We also see Gwen’s father and he is trying to do his best as well but doesn’t always take things well. In that plot I give Gwen at least 50% of the blame too though because she could have handled things better.

Overall, Across the Spider-Verse is an excellent film and definitely one that I would recommend checking out. The humor is on point, the pacing is great, the characters are excellent, the animation is masterful, etc. It’s a sequel that does everything right and you can especially appreciate the fast tempo and visuals by watching this one in theaters. You do not want to wait on this one and should try checking it out right away. As the “Part 1” is not in the title there are a lot of people who don’t even realize that this is one of those films that won’t be fully resolved just yet. Something to keep in mind because that always guarantees a fun ending.

Overall 9/10

Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls Review

It’s time for us to jump back into the world of Naruto with a spinoff that ended recently. You may be wondering how any villain can possibly hope to give the heroes a hard time when Naruto runs the world with a wholesome fist. Well, with lots of power level shenanigans but we’ll get into that later on. My main issue with the series is it feels like 90% of it is just the characters messing around until we get some brief plot at the very end before the series ends. This is a miniseries so it isn’t trying to be super grand or anything like that but at the end of the day I still think it could have done better. Still makes for an entertaining enough read though.

The series starts by introducing us to Mirai who is the daughter of Asuma. She has been trying to prove herself for a long time now but the tough part is that the village has been at peace for so long. She feels like she was never given a fair shot to show what she can do and never will at this rate. So she’s thrilled when she is added as a bodyguard to Kakashi and Might Guy’s mission…before getting saddened again when she sees this was just a cover for them to visit hot springs and have fun. Things just aren’t going her way but she needs to be careful what she wishes for because danger might be just around the corner.

There are 15 chapters here and the story is basically weekly sized so you can probably guess that the adventure will be quick. As I mentioned the first 2/3 of the series really are just slice of life adventures with little hintings of a plot before we get to the big battle at the end. You can absolutely execute well on such a story with the Naruto characters because in theory they are well rounded enough to still be entertaining. The main problem is that the characters aren’t particularly funny. In large part this is because Kakashi and Might Guy are always great in a serious context but I was never too impressed with their rivalry. They aren’t exactly op tier contenders there and since Might Guy can’t fight very much anymore…that doesn’t help things.

Mirai tries a little too hard throughout the series to prove herself and as a result she tends to hold them all back. They needed a very well reasoned veteran to help out and she was too eager to the point of embarrassing them at times. At least she could make potato chips and yes we get a full chapter of that. It isn’t until the end where she finally proves herself but it was a tough road to get there and she fell for one of the most basic traps out there. I do think Mirai has all the makings of being a good character but if you just read this series then I don’t imagine that you will have a very high opinion of her just yet. She’s still got a ways to go.

In terms of fighting ability she seems okay though. She’s hard to scale though because everyone scales quite poorly in this adventure. So lets use that as a diving board to talk about the power level issues. First off, Kakashi and Might Guy are now so weak that they can’t even break a boulder. It felt like gameplay mechanics for a minute there as the villains drop a boulder in front of the heroes so they can’t proceed. There is clearly a lot of room to go around or over the boulder but they can’t for some reason. It doesn’t make any sense but it’s even worse that they just can’t break it.

So they call in Choji but I guess old age has hit him rather harshly because he needs constant food to use his power at even a basic level. So that’s why Mirai had to make him some potato chips and then he was ready to go. That whole part of the plot will definitely make you groan because it makes no sense. It’s like a poorly written filler episode. The mini arc with Kiba showing up and our seeing a dog vs cat civil war was also more on the petty side. You’ll definitely be rolling your eyes a bit on that one.

Things pick up once they actually bring back the cult of lord Jashin. Jashin was always a character that I felt was underestimated by the Naruto fandom because in theory this is another cosmic being on the level of Kaguya. He seems like he’s definitely real because of the fact that the rituals work so maybe one day he will appear. I’m still banking on that even if the odds aren’t great because it just makes too much sense. He’s the one villain that all of the heroes will really need to watch out for or else they are going to be doomed.

His minions here are fairly generic though. They can’t fight a whole lot and use hostages to get in the way. The fight is only close because Mirai messed up. I really don’t buy Kakashi thinking he wasn’t fast enough to step in though. The nerfs to the OG characters in Boruto land definitely hits hard I guess. At least it was an excuse to see Mirai fight though and while she performed poorly against the hostage, we got some decent moves against the villain himself.

The art is on point here and I definitely have no issues there. All of the characters are on model and it’s very easy to read. On a technical level it certainly adopts the style of the original Naruto very well. With the short length there is no real downside to checking this one out because it’s so short and it’s also nice to see some of the characters again. Does it hold up in terms of story? Eh not really but it’s still not a bad title. You just wish more had happened.

I feel like there isn’t a whole lot to say even after 15 chapters. Mirai basically goes through the same character arc as Shikamaru in learning about who the King represents but without all of the hype action scenes and danger around it. Now granted, I do like that things are mostly peaceful under Naruto’s reign because it wouldn’t make sense if everything was super dangerous. That said, few stories manage to properly explain why Naruto isn’t running around taking names. Even if he’s sick I don’t see that holding him back. This is Naruto Uzumaki after all!

Overall, I’m always up for a classic spinoff. This story probably would benefit from a marathon read more than weekly since you’ll get to the action part a lot sooner. The review may have sounded fairly negative because there were a lot of areas to take shots at here but it’s not bad. Ultimately it ended up squarely in the middle. It was looking like a 6 for a while but in the end it just couldn’t quite make it. Another fight or two would have been good or some kind of hype cliffhanger but in the end I don’t think the story was executed nearly as well as it could have been. It’s not the kind of title that has any kind of replay value so you should check it out once if you’re a Naruto fan but that’s it. Hopefully next time Kakashi and Might Guy will look a lot better. (I also don’t buy their explanation that nothing can bring his leg back. There are so many spells and ninjutsu in the world of Naruto that should be able to do this easily…..)

Overall 5/10

Double Dragon Review

Double Dragon is a film that opens with its best fight scene right off the bat. That means you start off strong which is good but the huge downside to doing that is it means the rest of the experience is going downhill. Now granted, I did enjoy the film. It’s not great but I thought it was decently good. You are just surprised that the rest of the films aren’t as good as the opening because that showed you exactly what kind of potential this film had.

The movie starts off with Billy and Jimmy fighting against another pair of fighters in a martial arts tournament. They are doing well but unfortunately Billy makes a huge mistake and gets cocky which costs them the match. So they head home in disgrace and are then attacked by an enemy gang. See, this film takes place in the “future” which is the past at this point but the world’s not doing so hot. This is basically a dystopia as there is smog everywhere and a lot of acid all over the place. It’s really not safe after dark but Billy and Jimmy are rebels like that. They barely make it home where Satori lets them know about the dragon medallions. It’s rather sudden but they have to keep their half safe before the villain Shuko can get it or the whole world will be in trouble. Can these two teenagers man up and save the day or are they about to get absolutely rocked?

So like I said the opening fight is the best part of the movie. The fight scene actually has a lot of choreography to it and you can appreciate the stakes here. Nobody wants to lose in a tournament setting and Jimmy was actually doing really well until Billy ruined it for him. The fight had good music as well and with the film being based on a beat em up type game this is what you would expect. Unfortunately there are very few actual hand to hand battles after this and none of them are quite able to measure up.

Instead we have a lot of chase scenes and humor subplots but they don’t hit as hard. On the car chase I can at least appreciate the high tech gizmos that come into play with it but it doesn’t really stand out much. Then for the humor it’s often hit or miss. I like a lot of the puns and dialogue that the film is going for but some parts are just too outlandish and dragged out. For example one of the villains is named Bo and after he is defeated the villains decide to turn him into a huge Hulk type monster.

Now he’s nearly braindead and it seems like a rough fate for the guy but based on the music and scenes this is supposed to be funny to an extent. I’d say that the film definitely got lost in the sauce on this one. Any scene with Bo quickly became painful after this. You just did not want to see that guy at all and it’s not like he was a great villain before that but he definitely got even worse afterwards.

Then there is this whole subplot about Marian trying to unite the gangs and having what I guess you could equate to a nicer gang. They’re still vigilantes but they’re not so bad. With the police being extremely ineffective in this film as her own father the chief was nervous the whole time you do want this group out on the streets but it was a bit of a boring subplot. You were just waiting for the main characters to take the stage again.

The film does pick up again in the climax for the battle against Shuko though. We actually get to see the power of the Medallions in action and that also means that we have some more hand to hand fights at last. This does bring up some power level issues though because the medallion is supposed to be a big deal. It can even end the entire planet after all so what are two teenagers and their fists going to do about it? Well, at it turns out they can apparently do a whole lot about it. Kind of an odd way to dehype the object right?

Basically it can split you into shadows and has some other vague abilities including the ability to control someone else’s body but Shuko looks way too unimpressive. I just don’t buy him losing to the characters like that. Now I will say one hype thing about the climax is that we do get the iconic costumes at last. The costumes look really good too so the effects team held nothing back here. They should have given the heroes those costumes from the start but this was still a good way to end things. It showed you a bit of promise on how things could have been.

The movie tries to really nail the bantering dynamic between Billy and Jimmy but you just don’t feel like it works. There aren’t enough scenes of them actually being pals so it feels like they low key just don’t like each other. Even by the very end of the film one of the brothers tries to run away with the girl and ditch the other one only to be outsmarted by the guy already being in the car. It’s of course played up as a funny ending but yeah they spend most of the film being at odds with one another. The sequel probably could have fixed this but that’s not really in the cards.

Overall, At the end of the day Double Dragon isn’t a great film but it’s a pretty fun one. It’s a very old school title with a lot of campy action and witty banter. While not all of the film’s humor lands, I’d say that enough of it does. The villain has a classic base and the effects hold up well so you will appreciate the scenery behind him. The world isn’t very well thought out and it’s not super memorable but the film did try being grand here. There’s just enough unique elements about the film to make you want to keep coming back. I dare say there is a good amount of replay value to be found here although a modern remake could likely execute on the game’s premise way better. This could and should be an elite film just based on the game so I need the next one to focus on the fights a whole lot more.

Overall 6/10

Blue Thunder Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as a review of the unedited version would likely be more negative

Blue Thunder is one of those films that has a fairly interesting plot but also unlikable main characters. There is one particularly egregious scene which realllllllly ends up hurting the movie as well. Ultimately if you are looking for those rare helicopter fight scenes then this one should be the ticket for you but otherwise it’s definitely time for a good skip. Watch Top Gun 2 instead for a solid film involving aerial combat.

The film starts off by introducing us to Frank and Richard who are two helicopter pilots who basically do frequent patrols around the neighborhood to make sure everything is going well. Well one day they come across a crime that seems like a potential mugging but the victim was a councilwoman and she ends up dying. It was a very odd neighborhood for this kind of attack and Frank notices things that don’t make sense around the area which all get missed in the police report. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on as he’s already known to not be the best at just following orders and his boss thinks he is sort of going off the ravine again. Can Frank get to the bottom of this mystery?

See, this is normally where you’re supposed to get annoyed at the boss because he’s slowing Frank down and not letting him do his job. Usually that’s the case at least but here’s the problem, Frank actually is a very bad employee. It’s not even one of those things where it’s close. He abuses his power in order to spy on people. The worst scene in the whole film is Frank and Richard invading a lady’s privacy and staring at her through the window from long range so she can’t see them. It’s really an awful scene all around and well past the boundaries of being even remotely funny. It’s just inappropriate and that alone should cost them their badge.

So when Frank is getting upset about the bosses zeroing in on him…well he definitely earned it. That scene also has nothing to do with the film and seemed to only have been added as fanservice. Cut that out and the film is immediately a lot better. The worst part is that the characters don’t really pay for that. Sure Richard has a painful time during the film to be sure but it’s not directly related to this scene. Then Frank gets to play the hero as he runs around blasting at everyone.

The film is at its best when it’s focused on the actual mystery. For example Frank’s friend Kate helps him out by going to the reporters and we get a fun little side plot near the end. One of the villains even sends a goon after her but fortunately she didn’t fall for the trap and then the reporter came through in time with the security guard. That was definitely fairly tense and the reporter was impressive. He felt like he could have been the lead in a different film.

As for the main villain Cochrane, the guy is definitely not very subtle about being a villain but when there is so much corruption in the ranks why would you bother hiding right? The guy can basically do whatever he wants to a large extent and it’s not like anybody is going to be able to stop him. He’s just going to do whatever he wants and will keep on doing it until someone can stop him. He plays the villain role well and is the most entertaining character in the film to be sure. The guy’s just so sarcastic the whole time.

The effects for the helicopter scenes definitely hold up really well too. I’ve always preferred planes in most areas since I feel like they are faster, more agile, better equipped, etc. But you still don’t want to underestimate the Helicopters because there is a lot that they can do. Part of the focus in the film is that they are testing an experimental one which will have so much firepower that it is basically a mini army in its own right. The dilemma here is obviously that having so much firepower within the city is a huge risk, especially if it’s in the hands of someone like Frank.

I’d say he proves that he’s not trustworthy for using it throughout the film. It also has a lot of invasive hardware in it like a super long range scanner to hear anything anyone says from any range. Not exactly the kind of tech that you just want anyone to have right? It was even funny in a way how in the army demo the company gave we saw a ton of innocent people being destroyed in the simulations. There just isn’t a way to get this kind of weaponry to ever be super safe without some collateral damage. Not without some kind of big technological breakthrough at least. The action scenes are good though and the film’s pacing is on point.

Overall, This film had potential but that one scene just dragged on way too long and was way too detailed. It also destroyed both main characters in an instant to the point where they were impossible to root for. The conspiracy angle was done well although most films have done it better. We get some minor hand to hand kind of action here but mainly it’s about the vehicles and that is handled well. I still wouldn’t recommend this film but it’s fairly close to the border of being a solid pic. If you can get behind that one moment of Frank being the villain then you should have a good time here.

Overall 4/10

B’t X Review

This is a show I sort of vaguely knew about since the Saint Seiya creator is very popular but other than the name I knew nothing about it. It turns out to be a fairly retro mecha adventure and one that I definitely had a really good time with. I love me some some mecha action after all and it all feels very nostalgic. I may not have seen the show before but the animation style and fight scenes definitely feel retro in a very good way. There are a ton of battles here that just keep coming one right after the other. The cast is very solid and the show manages to be really interesting and engaging from the jump.

The story picks up with the genius scientist Kotaro preparing to give a lecture. He’s attacked by a shapeshifting robot but his brother Teppei saves him. Teppei has always been the big fighter of the family while Kotaro has the intellect and together they make the world a better place. Unfortunately the Machine Empire attacks the delegation, murders tens of thousands and kidnaps Kotaro. They have taken him past a zone known as the Area and it’s said to be impossible to get there. The throne is protected by dozens and dozens of fighters each with powerful B’t creatures whcih are basically fancy robots.

Teppei has the Messiah Fist that he inherited from his mentor Karen and can destroy any machine but it’s not quite enough to tip the scales. Fortunately his blood is able to awaken one of the most legendary B’t creatures of all time, X. X only wants to work with Karen but he won’t just turn away from someone in need. After a lot of grumbling on both sides, Teppei and X agree to help each other out. Will they be able to stop the Machine Empire and save Teppei’s brother?

The show starts off real quick with the whole shapeshifting robot although that part gets ditched pretty fast. Ditched might be the wrong word but since pretty much the whole series takes place en route to the area, there isn’t much time to check out the real world and how humanity is faring. I liked the idea of shapeshifting robots being around every corner so the heroes always have to be careful. It almost would have been like a mystery thriller kind of title. The humans feel like they’re probably outgunned though. Put it this way, throughout the series when Teppei is trying to stop the empire, we never see the government stepping in or anything like that. The machines are in the driver’s seat all the way.

So there’s a lot left for the world building but I don’t think this is that kind of show. Most of it is really about taking on lots of enemies and continuing to push past your limits. Teppei definitely has a tough time here but he never gives up and keeps on getting stronger. Meanwhile it’s definitely a lot tougher for Kotaro trying to stay safe and out of danger.

Kotaro is a pretty good main character. Despite the constant danger that he’s in, he still keeps trying to stop the Empire in his own way by finding out the weakness to their trump card, Raffaello. After all if he can figure out how to destroy that thing then the world will really be in a much safer place. Hopefully he does get his own B’t though so he can fight a bit more because the support role is fun and all but he’ll end up staying very overshadowed if that’s the extent of his role. Make no mistake, the cutaways to his plot are always very engaging but you still want a little something more.

Then you have Teppei who is a very solid main character. He has that classic “Can Do” attitude about him. He doesn’t give up and continues to press forward. He definitely gets into a lot of disagreements with X so expect a lot of bickering but it all works out in the end. His battle skills are on point and he will jump into a battle even if he doesn’t expect to win. Teppei is good at thinking outside the box and doesn’t take thing too personal. If a character says he will help Teppei now then the hero will usually believe him and keep it moving. He just knows that the priority is saving his brother and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that mission.

X is a fun B’t and definitely one that has the most emotion out of all of them. They all do have personalities which is actually a big plus of the series but of course as a main character we get to see this guy way more than most of the others. He’s always around either in the middle of a fight or getting a power up. Now I will say that he isn’t quite as impressive as you would expect though. He’s a B’t of legend and everyone fears him but X spends most of the series getting beaten up over and over again.

There are a few reasons for this like his owner not being able to draw out his maximum abilities and his still being damaged but considering his big rep it’s still not always a consolation. You just expect a lot more from this guy and I’d say that X doesn’t really live up to the hype until the very end of the series. I like his personality though so X is still a lot of fun either way.

Karen mainly appears in flashbacks but she works as a good mentor to Teppei. She teaches him a lot and the guy would definitely be out of his league if not for the Messiah fist. Her history is mainly shrouded in mystery which you find out more of as the series goes on. Right now she has one of the stronger moral compasses in the series and she is always trying to make a difference. She can fight as well so I hope we get to see her go up against the villains in the continuation. It just feels like this would be a missed opportunity not to have her join in the fights soon. I want to see her side by side with the main characters.

One of the first villains to show up here was Metal Face and I have a soft spot for the guy. By no means is he one of the more powerful villains but I liked the guy’s confidence and he had a lot of good dialogue. He was someone who didn’t back down from a challenge and had to go up against some of the world’s strongest without anything special on his end. It might be a stretch to call this guy a main supporting character but I can say that he’s persistent and I really liked that about him.

Then you have Aramis who is more about giving orders but not actually doing much. I’m still waiting to see if she can actually fight. If she can then that will help her a whole lot but for now I can’t say that I’m really a fan. She talks really tough but then she folds when the boss shows up. If she can fight later on or defects from the villains then that would be huge and give her some momentum.

After that you have the 4 legendary generals. So part of X’s hype is that he is one of those 4 legendary B’t and that means he has a lot to live up to. The next member we meet is Fou and his B’t. Fou is someone who runs a bit of an orphanage and seems like a decent guy but since he’s working for the villains that doesn’t quite add up. He gets a lot of character development as the show goes on though and I thought his character was handled really well. Yeah he’s definitely not a true hero through and through but at the same time he does have his own standards and code of conduct. He won’t be doing just anything or follow orders blindly.

His abilities also seem extremely impressive. Whenever he shows up in an episode the villains fear him and the heroes know they have no chance. This is exactly how the big 4 should appear and it’s why I’m still waiting for Teppei and X to command that level of respect. Once they can do that then I will know that they have really made it. I hope Fou continues to get more fights as the series goes on because seeing him in action is always great. His B’t is also very solid and a machine that is also very confident in her abilities. They have a good bond going right there.

Then there is Hokuto who seems less like a fighter. This guy is more about studying and using his own genius intellect to better the world….well more like just so he can learn more. I wouldn’t call this guy a hero either but at least he wants to find the truth and that prevents him from being just another yes man. I need to see him actually fight though so for now he is the weakest of the big 4 to me. You absolutely need brawn in addition to brain to come out on top. We do know that he can fight but I want to see just how well.

Finally there is Ron but the guy can definitely be a bit more on the annoying side. He’s very strong to be sure but acts more like a mindless yes man at times. Even when everyone is telling him that something is up he refuses to listen. The guy just jumps right into fights and while it’s good to be loyal to a cause, you always have to be reasonable about it. Otherwise you end up following someone rather than the cause and that can be a really big problem. His B’t has a cool design though and I can still appreciate his power. There aren’t many in the verse right now who can challenge him.

Right now the highest ranking member of the empire that we’ve seen is a kid named Misha. He apparently works as a direct contact to the leader. So the leader gives him orders and he executes them. That’s why even if the kid isn’t very strong everyone is completely afraid of him because if he says the wrong thing then they’re doomed. What this kid says goes even when it’s unreasonable and usually this guy is very unreasonable. Lets just say that a whole lot of empire soldiers are destroyed for no reason during Raffaello’s rampages.

So for Rafaello, he is an absolutely huge robot that continues to grow and get more powerful. As a result this guy is shaping up to be the final boss although unfortunately he is so far the only character not to have any personality. So I hope he gets some quick or that won’t be the most satisfying way to end this. I’m interested in how this plays out though. Right now while he is huge, I have a hard time picturing him giving the heroes all that much of a fight though. They would have him completely outnumbered and would also be a lot faster. That should make the fight seem rather one sided if anything.

Now while the show is great, the only issue I had with it is that they do squeeze in some animal violence. Naturally the empire has a lot of livestock around so when the monster goes crazy on the loose the animals don’t quite make it. The scene didn’t really serve any purpose so I’m not sure why that was included at all. Stick to showing the machine just murder a bunch of humans instead, that’s always a better outcome. In general the show isn’t particularly violent but you can definitely still expect a fairly high body count.

One of the series big strengths are its monster of the week characters. A lot of them are actually really memorable and just as importantly they’re also fairly strong. Now to an extent it can be rough seeing all of these random generals giving Teppei a hard time but it shows why nobody else has ever infiltrated the Machine Empire. They have way too many powerful fighters at their disposal. One impressive fighter was a guy with a hook for a hand. What made him stand out is how he’s punching way above his weight class. You figure this guy should be getting packed up rather easily but instead he just gets right back into the thick of the action and keeps on attacking Teppei. Even without his B’t the guy keeps hanging in there and that’s impressive.

Likewise the first of the demon lord fighters shows up and puts up a tremendous fight. He really almost had Teppei and this is after Teppei had grown way more powerful. This is the case for a bunch of these area fighters and while you may not remember their names at times, you will remember the impact. The series quite literally would not be the same without them. I also like the idea of the demon warriors and hopefully the other 6 look good. The show made the interesting choice of confirming that the first member was actually the strongest one. I can’t remember the last time that happened so it was a good twist. Usually it’s the opposite.

The animation here is pretty good. It may not be stunning but the fight scenes definitely go all out and the character models are on point. I also liked the soundtrack quite a bit. It is a little on the smaller side to be sure but at least the tunes that replay a lot are pretty good. If they weren’t then that would absolutely have been a problem. So on the technicals the series holds up and I already explained how the fights are good. The writing is on point too. There was one annoying kid that shows up for a little while but he was written out before long so that wasn’t too bad.

There is already a lot set up for the next season as well. This one has a cliffhanger as you can probably imagine and it works pretty well. I’d have probably even gone further with the cliffhanger but this works either way. I do wonder if they can really squeeze everything into the next season because it feels like there is a whole lot to do but at the same time I know you can pull a whole lot off when the time crunch is near. So we’ll see which villains get the most spotlight coming up and which ones get the shaft. This season introduced a powerful clown villain by the end so I’m super interested in seeing what happens next.

Overall, B’T X is a great show. If you’re looking for a title with nonstop fights and at least one battle in every episode then you’re in luck. It still seems a little unpopular to an extent as there aren’t a ton of screencaps to grab off of Google without doing more of a deep dive so every person who checked it out can help get the show to be even bigger.. Still, the sheer pacing and hype of all the battles will be enough to keep bringing you back. There just aren’t a ton of old school Shonens like this left so you really have to savor them. I look forward to seeing how the sequel plays out and definitely recommend this one.

Overall 8/10

Fast X Review

It’s time to take a look at the latest Fast and the Furious film. As you can expect this one is going to be a ton of nonstop action and at this point in the series the cast is rather huge. I’d say the movie does a great job of giving everyone something to do. There are so many cutaways to different locations and it’s pretty much the Infinity War of the racing series. It’s easily one of the stronger films in the series and it really shows how this series has become consistently great ever since the 5th movie. It can now be compared with heavy hitters like Mission Impossible. Throw in the fact that this film is “Part 1” and you’re also guaranteed a fun cliffhanger.

The movie starts with a flashback to the 5th film introducing us to the new villain, Dante. He’s the son of the guy who got bumped off in the 5th movie and now he wants revenge. He has been biding his time for years now and is finally ready to make his move and take Dominic down. Specifically he wants to destroy his family first and then take Dominic down for the count. He will have to go up against an army of heroes though so does he really have what it takes? Well, time to find out.

So one of the benefits of a movie series is that you have a lot of time to introduce all of the characters and develop them over time. When handled correctly, an ambitious film 10 will always beat the oneshot adventure because you are able to make this as grand as possible. This movie brings in characters from so many films and so many plotlines that it automatically gives the film a big boost. It almost feels like a crossover to an extent even though it’s just one film. Particularly characters like Shaw and Jakob because they almost feel like they’re from different series.

The action scenes here are really on point as you would expect. The films have so many hand to hand fights now in addition to the car scenes and they all work well. The choreography is on point and it’s also nice seeing the different fighting styles. Jakob fights more like a special ops guy with precision shotgun blasts to the head, Shaw fights like an assassin using every trick in the book, Cipher fights with deadly short stabs, etc. At this point they’re all so powerful and some of these characters have to fight other established fighters which makes for a wild ride.

The pacing is also excellent. The chases and action scenes start off almost right away and from there it tends to be nonstop. The movie is long and it feels long, but in that time it still manages to cover more than you would expect. I like how the characters keep hopping across the globe into different countries. The constant change in scenery is nice and the film keeps up with the different song styles all throughout as well. The movies have always had a really solid soundtrack and I’d say this one fits right in. The songs always get your blood pumping as you get ready for more high intensity races.

At this point of course there aren’t a lot of actual races though. There are a ton of car chases and action scenes but there’s only one real race and it’s very short. It was still nice to see it for an instant though and I thought the movie did a great job of setting it up. We meet a hype character who has been winning a lot of races lately. She believes that beating Dominic will be easy, then you have Dante in his villainous car and one of Dominic’s local supporters. It had all the setup and stakes of a true race.

With this much nonstop action you may worry about it being too much but that’s not a problem. The action scenes are all different so that’s never really a concern. All of the best scenes involve some kind of action but the title never loses its heart either. My favorite moment was definitely when Letty decided to take down Cipher. Sure Cipher may be helpful in the current predicament but you can’t forget what she’s already done to the heroes so there’s no time to work as buddies. She just had to be taken out of the equation real quick.

Even with a film this great of course there will always be some issues. No movie is perfect after all. The weakest part in this one would be the main villain Dante. The film’s definitely playing him up as a super quirky villain. He has a lot of comedic moments in a dark humor kind of way like talking with dead bodies and generally acting insane. He probably laughs about as much as the Joker and Dante tries not to take himself too seriously. He’s always squealing and trying to play mind games on the heroes. So far we have not been able to really see him fight though as he folds like an omelet the instant the heroes finally get to him.

His planning is good of course and the guy is one step ahead of the heroes the whole time so you do have to give him a lot of credit. The guy is good at what he does and a true threat but I can’t say that I found him all that engaging or exciting as a villain. Personally I just was not impressed and he would be one of the weaker villains for me. His scenes tended to be the weakest part and you were just waiting for the heroes to step in. His intro scene of appearing before Cipher also had a whole ton of plot armor for him to get so far.

There’s also the one obligatory scene of Dominic driving towards a racing area where we get some random dancing and fanservice. I feel like they squeeze one scene like this into every film just for tradition even though it doesn’t actually add anything to the story. You’ll be rolling your eyes at that scene and just waiting for the next one but beyond that the rest of the film is definitely legit.

Meanwhile Cipher continues to be a great villain through and through. She really managed to overcome the odds by taking on such a large group of fighters. She was one of the big masterminds in previous films and I’m glad that she’s still got it. I did mix up her and Tess at one point because they look so similar but both are quality characters so that wasn’t much of a problem. Hopefully Cipher continues to get some more fights in the next one. Eventually they do need to take her down though, I hope all of the heroes hold a grudge like Letty and don’t just forget how evil she was.

Little Nobody doesn’t get to do a whole lot here. The guy continues to look incredibly unimpressive which is why we need the real Nobody back. I feel like this guy only exists to get styled on every single time. Tess was a fun addition to the cast though. I look forward to seeing her get to fight a little more next time but already she’s done a lot to prove that she is someone who shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Then there is Isabel who has a smaller role than most of the other characters but I liked her confidence in the race. She definitely knows how to race but at the same time if you’re Dominic you’re probably not worried. Shaw’s role is also pretty small here but I’d say in large part it’s because he would really steal the show if he was here longer. What are the villain’s really going to do against a fighter who is this skilled and prepared? Shaw is really in a different league from pretty much all the main characters here, even Dominic would likely go down against this guy. Always satisfying to see how he fights.

Roman and Tej have a lot of fun banter throughout the film as always. I tend to prefer Roman as a character because no matter how things turn out the guy always has something witty to say while Tej tries to bring the mood down. Their fight definitely felt like the most random part of the whole film though. I kept waiting for there to be a twist about how this was going to lure the villains’ out or something but I guess they actually did just need to mix it up a bit. Ultimately this subplot served its role well as the more comedic B plot.

Ramsey and Han also tagged along for the ride. Ramsey did her usual solid hacking and Han gave us a way to bring Shaw back into the mix so that was fun. In a way the characters didn’t get to do much other than just hanging out nd being themselves but that’s all you really need. Another benefit of this being a sequel, you already know the characters so it’s not like they have to be introduced again.

Then there is Mia whose appearance is small but she does well in it. She definitely still knows how to fight and gives the villains a really tough time all the way through. Hopefully they can incorporate her more into the plot again at some point. Then once Jakob shows up he really begins to steal the show in his subplot. The guy does a great job of looking after the kid for the most part and it felt like he kept a lot of the strength that he had as a villain. This guy isn’t going to go down easily and has a lot of his own contacts. Fans of the character should definitely be real satisfied here.

Letty does well as the main heroine. She is always quick to fight and did keep up with Dante for quite a while which was impressive. Whenever Dominic tries to leave on a solo mission she does not let him and that’s the right way to go. At this point they need to be a team so no running off solo like in the old days. At this point Dominic needs to be able to trust the team and she makes sure to press that point. Letty also more than justifies her own involvement since she can take care of herself.

Then we have the new government head Aimes who really doesn’t want to hear any stories and just wants to take Dominic down for the count. The guy is definitely as unreasonable as possible and doesn’t like the whole family approach. It is fun how he basically acknowledges that everyone always turns good and joins the barbeque by the end of the film. It’s the right level of awareness without actually breaking the 4th wall. In general I liked all of the callbacks here and references to different parts of the franchise. It worked really well.

Finally we have Dominic who is a great main character as always. He gives more lessons about just how important family is and never lets up on this. He goes through a lot here but always comes up with a plan and thinks things through. I really have no problems with Dominic because he’s just a stand up guy who always does the right thing and doesn’t waver. There aren’t any real flaws to point to here and that’s why he’s a character that everyone else can rally behind. As long as he has a car then he has a chance and that will always be the case here.

The film has a great cliffhanger to end things off. It takes full advantage of the fact that this is a multi parter and a two part film should never end with things appearing to be resolved. (Slight shots to the RWBY/Justice League film) This is definitely how you do it. Then you have an after credits scene which was excellent. One of the stand out scenes in the film. Now this isn’t how the film would play out but imagine for a minute if the second film only focused on the character who appeared at the end? Sort of like a redo but seeing if the strategy would work on this character. Trust me, I don’t think it will. This character does have some family weaknesses as well but he’s ready for action. The first thing I said when leaving the theatre is that the villain’s going to be in for a surprise because this guy won’t be going down the way a certain other character did.

New main character, new rules. This guy also isn’t hiding and the sheer top level confidence here was great. A super bold move would be not to bring back just about any of the characters from this film so the sequel is just the characters who were all right by the end of this one. Realistically though this is the kind of film where you’re expecting more of a full teamwork, celebration mood by the end. Nothing wrong with that either, but the possibilities for the sequel are just so good. X already set a high bar but the sequel could manage to top it and I’m eager to see how this plays out.

Overall, Fast X is a great film. It’s really got everything that you could want in an action thriller. A lot of action and a lot of thrills. Yeah that may just sound like more of the same but why fix what isn’t broken right? I would say there is probably still more action here than even in previous films though. It feels like the most nonstop out of all the films at least after watching it. It’s a perfect film for theaters in that respect as well because hearing all of the sounds and watching this on the big screen was a real treat. It may be tougher to watch if you haven’t seen the previous 9 but either way you want to catch this film before it leaves theaters because it is definitely on point!

Overall 8/10

Knights of the Zodiac Review

Saint Seiya has had many films and series over the years but we hadn’t really gotten the live action version before now. Well, that was all to change with this one. Interestingly it decided to go with the American name for the franchise but that one’s always worked well so it’s a reasonable move. Unfortunately the movie isn’t doing so great at the box office so the chances of a sequel are beginning to dim. It’s definitely a shame since this one sets the seeds very well but I guess it’s going to be back to the drawing board for the franchise.

The film kicks off with two fighters battling it out in the night sky. The hero manages to protect the baby Athena before he is ultimately destroyed in the process. We then cut to the present where Seiya is a street fighter who takes on all challengers although he does a lot more dodging than actual fighting. After a particularly tricky fight Seiya is attacked by mysterious warriors and so a mysterious old guy tells him that they have to hurry out of there. Next thing Seiya knows he’s in a castle where a girl named Sienna is said to be the reincarnation of Athena and Seiya has to protect her since Seiya is the Pegasus incarnation from the knights. Does he have the power to pull this off…and why should he?

A lot of the story here is about following your destiny or trying to break past it if need be. Fortunately Seiya is a hero through and through so while it may not make a whole lot of sense at first, he does get with the program and help out as needed. He doesn’t get along with Sienna very well at first but in large part this is due to her being rude the whole time so you don’t really blame him. I’d say that Seiya is a likable main character who is told to believe a whole lot of things at face value right off the bat so it makes sense that he would be skeptical.

He went from being an ordinary fighter to having to fight world ending threats over night so I cut him a lot of slack. I’d say the movie also did a good job of including a little humor to his character as well. The original show may not have had too much time for it but Seiya did have a sense of humor that would show up once in a while. Here he gets some clever one liners and insults spread throughout the film and they help to make him feel much more like a complete character.

He still has his confidence and willingness to jump into battle as well. Definitely a solid lead all around. Now as you may have heard, the rest of the bronze saints don’t appear here which is definitely an odd choice. Instead we jump right to Phoenix Ikki…who has been renamed Nero for the movie and this time he’s working for a human named Guraad. This part is more inspired by the TV show and it’s an interesting angle. Basically she believes that Athena has to die in order to save the world from a dark prophecy and Nero is helping out. You have to be careful who you trust as a villain though.

Nero easily steals the show here with his constant sarcastic wit. The guy has an answer for everything and of course he has the power to back it up. If not for all the trailers showing that Nero would get in on the action you may start to get a little nervous halfway through the film though as you hope he will get to fight here. I can tell you that skipping his fight would have really hurt the film. As it stands we get to see exactly why he is so confident. His abilities really speak for themselves.

I also thought the movie went all out with making the effects for his costume and attacks good. One of the movie’s few weaknesses is that Seiya’s suit looks really bad. It’s nothing like his classic attire and looks like something out of Mortal Kombat instead. I like Mortal Kombat as much as the next guy but it doesn’t make sense to change this when Seiya is so popular and world renown for the outfit. His Pegasus Fist was also ruined here unfortunately. It just looks like smoke to an extent and not a rapid blow of fists. So the effects could have been a lot better but Nero’s looked good.

The fight scenes were all really solid though. I knew I was in for a treat right away when I saw the shockwaves behind every hit during the Seiya vs Cassios fight. Super satisfying all the way. I dare say it may have been the best fight in the film with the only competition being Nero vs Seiya. Both very good fights but in general all the hand to hand and beam battles were good. If you’re looking for action then this film delivered.

Guraad also made for a good villain. She wants to save the world even if it means destroying all of her bonds. She even knows how to fight with her technology and aura in a pinch. She doesn’t finish very well though as this kind of villain only really works when she is determined and ready to see her goals through to the end. When you’re a super evil villain like this then that’s what you really need to do but the instant you waver then that’s no good. It’s way too late for the victims at that point and so I much rather see a villain who sees the plan through than one who has doubts.

That’s why I wasn’t thrilled about parts of her character arc here but ultimatelys he is still good. I actually prefer her by a large margin to Alman who feels more wishy washy and the guy went too far. He caused just about as much damage as Guraad and while he ultimately did stop, he certainly took his time in the past. Princess Sienna is a good character though. She’s your classic “I’m really tough” character who comes in strong with the insults and doesn’t want to let anyone get too close.

She can’t control her powers yet though so don’t expect a lot of actual wins but at least she can talk tough which is always appreciated. Seiya knows that he can’t let his guard down around her or she’ll insult him again. By the end of the film I’d say that she has finally balanced her attitude along with being a little nicer though. If the films end up turning her into a real fighter that would be great.

I also have to give the film credit for how it handled Cassios. He’s considerably better here than in any other Saint Seiya media that I’ve seen. The guy was a full character and a strong fighter even before getting powers. The guy actually dealt damage to the automatic cosmo soldiers at one point and he also has a lot of confidence. Ultimately he might let himself get manipulated a little too easily and don’t expect him to actually come out on top but he’s a villain who is very entertaining to see. I was glad that he wasn’t just a one shot joke character.

The movie does have a good fakeout involving this with Alman’s bodyguard. When the first guy shows up to get one shotted by the villains you figure that the film did him dirty but then we see the true bodyguard after that and he looks good. It’s a bit cheesy that anyone could beat a bunch of these dark knights with a sword and gun combo. I’m not really sure that I buy it at all but it did make for a fun action scene.

The story, characters, and fights were definitely good all around. The only other issue is the pacing did get a little slow during the training by Marin. I felt like the desert didn’t make for the most interesting backdrop and the training itself was a little more on the plain side. There wasn’t much to it so it wasn’t super interesting. You were just waiting for Seiya to get back already to help out Sienna and stop the villains. Eventually Marin saw reason there but she definitely delayed him. It would be nice to see Marin more in the sequel because she can fight so she should be really useful there.

Overall, It was probably a mistake to change so many things from the manga. Having the rest of the Saints show up here would have been the better decision rather than saving them for a sequel that may or may not happen. I don’t think it would have been a whole lot to juggle. Either way I am looking forward to the sequel for this film if it arrives. As far as live action adaptions of a manga go I thought this was a fairly strong one. I was entertained the whole time and while it was a different adventure, I thought it captured the spirit of the adventure. Next time lets get more of the classic music tracks in here though instead of remixes playing very silently in the background.

Overall 8/10

The Misfit of Demon King Academy Review

It’s time to check out a series where the main character might be more popular than the actual show. That’s a bit of a bold thing to say of course but I feel like this guy gets mentioned all the time. The series is a lot of fun though. I think it did leave a lot of meat on the bone with the premise though since the next season is going to be pretty different based on how this one concludes. I would have stretched out the plot for another season at least but either way this is a great all around title.

The series begins by introducing us to a guy named Anos. He protects a fellow student Misha from bullies one day but then exclaims that he is actually the legendary Demon King that everyone worships. See, the characters may look like humans but the series takes place in a demon society. Everyone knows that the king is supposed to eventually revive but for some reason history appears to have been overwritten and everyone thinks the king’s name is actually Avos. Anos will have to prove himself somehow but in the meantime he must attend school like a normal person. He also ended up being branded as a “Misfit” due to the way the scanner processed his data. A bit odd since he’s the most powerful one there but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Can he uncover the mysteries unfolding around him?

One of the enjoyable aspects of the series is really just the extent to which Anos is confident at all times. The guy is extremely powerful to the point where he can almost literally defeat his opponents with a wave. He destroys someone’s fire spell just by breathing out and his physical abilities allow him to endure any blow. Anos can even come back from the dead at will and has perfect immortality. Now you also have to consider that this is all while the majority of his power is still sealed away. Anos is rarely in danger in this show so you’re not watching it to see him lose.

It’s more like One Punch Man where the fun is in the humor all around him. In one way Anos even has a big edge over Saitama which is that he has much more of a personality. Anos is strong and he knows it so the guy walks around with the confidence of knowing that he is the best. It’s just one of those facts that the others have to accept. He can almost be a bit oblivious about this as well as he doesn’t understand why others don’t recognize him as the strongest. As the series goes on we even see that he’s rather nice for a demon king and is always looking out for others.

It may sound cheesy to hear that the most invincible demon of all is also the most heroic one but on the other hand if he was a villain then it’s not like the world would stand a chance anyway. So it’s definitely a power fantasy type show here but the show holds nothing back and embraces this which makes it work. A show like this will need to still be strong all around to make it work and that’s not a problem here. I enjoyed the cast, the humor is on point, and the fight scenes are really strong when they happen.

I’ve already talked about Anos a lot but to sum it up he is a great main character. He’s a good guy who always tries to do the right thing and doesn’t let anyone impose their values on him. He’s always ready to lecture the other students on what it means to be a true demon king and the guy doesn’t waver. He takes everything in stride and that’s great. No panicking, no second guessing himself. Anos has already had any possible character arcs off screen so you’re looking at a hero in his prime.

The main heroine here is Misha. You can make a case for Sasha, but Misha is introduced first and I would say has a bigger role. She can be rather timid and doesn’t stick up for herself all that much. After meeting Anos she definitely starts to improve there though. Misha has a rather sad backstory and has been through a lot so you can see how she went down that path. I’m still not the biggest fan though as I tend to gravitate more towards the confident characters but she does earn points for stepping up to fight and help as needed. Ultimately she’s not bad and I expect she will continue to improve in the future.

Sasha is definitely a character that is more fun but also makes more mistakes. She’s like a roller coaster going up and down while Misha is someone who is very consistent. Sasha starts off great, gets on your nerves towards the middle of the series, and then bounces back again. Ultimately she has a lot of twists and by the end I can at least understand her choices. They weren’t the best and on the record I do think she should have found another way. Especially when….you’ve got an invincible demon king by your side who seems to have every power under the Sun. Just ask him for help. Seriously that’s all she needed to do and we would have skipped a whole lot of drama.

That’s why near the end it is satisfying to see her and Misha finally trust Anos no matter what and this helps during the climax. The guy has performed so many miracles that I feel like you have to be on his side by the end. There should be no room for doubt and you just keep following him to the end. It’s also the safest place to be…most of the time. More on that later.

Anos’ parents also show up which is rather nice. A lot of the time in these shows you won’t see the parents almost at all but they actually stay relevant the whole way through here. Anos has a good relationship with them and they take all of the twists and supernatural elements in stride. When he grows up in under a week from being a baby they just get excited at how fast he grew. When he ends up being the strongest most popular kid at school they’re still just happy for him. They still act like normal parents in cooking food and hanging out with him/building swords and it’s a surprisingly very wholesome plot. Naturally when they get injured you’d best believe Anos is going to be causing some major damage.

Then you have Lay who is one of the best characters without a doubt. The guy is a super skilled swordsman with a ton of confidence and the only one who can give Anos a fun fight in the kingdom. Sure the guy is still outmatched but at least he fights hard and is considerably more talented than most. The guy is a bit of an enigma as he shows up out of the blue and seems a little mysterious. The guy fits right in with the cast though and also has a lot of confidence of his own. He doesn’t fall into the social traps the other characters try to get him into and just cares about getting stronger. A solid motivation I would always say.

Emilia is the teacher for a while but she’s definitely more of a passive villain as she believes in the class system. The show has a bit of a subplot there where the demons are divided into different ranks based on power, family heritage, etc. Anos couldn’t care less about this though and same for Lay so as they continue to show off with their powerful deeds more people start coming around to this line of thinking. It’s nice that Anos is performing such a benefit to society!

The hero Kanon appears several times in the flashbacks as someone who worked with Anos in order to make the world peaceful. Anos is the one who came up with a way to stop the war between humans and demons and then Kanon helped him execute this. Kanon feels a little naive though and definitely lacks Anos’ power so things get a bit dicey for him but I did like the guy through and through. He’s someone that you can count on to do the right thing.

Then we have a villain who was actually really powerful in Eugo. This was the god of time and as you would expect that means he can actually fight someone like Anos. Perhaps he is still not a complete match but he would make sure that Anos at least had to use his abilities for real this time. I liked the guy’s design a lot too and against just about anyone else his time hax would have likely dealt big damage.

I didn’t care much for the demon generals like Ivis and friends because they all get mind controlled incredibly easy so you shake your head when they’re around. Anos really didn’t have the best followers if you ask me. I suppose they can still be good teachers at the school if needed but that’s about it. Put it this way, if Anos is ever in danger then these guys won’t be strong enough to help anyway. It’s rough but that’s just the facts of the matter here.

Avos was also a powerful fighter. He is someone who is always in the background during the pre arc around the school and then starts making his move during the underwater arc leading up to the climax. He has a good design and can actually fight which goes a long way. Definitely a worthy foe to end the adventure with, certainly more than the evil humans from the water arc who felt desperate the whole time. The water arc was fun with the fights but you were just waiting for Anos to end everyone as opposed to the climax where Anos was fighting for the world in a high stakes battle.

Now while I thought the show was great, it’s not devoid of issues. One of them for me is how despite Anos’ super powers he does let his friends and family get injured at times. I’m not saying he needs to be omnipotent but with his level of ability that should not be happening. It’s why One Punch Man tries to stay very light because if anyone seriously gets injured then you have to have a hard look at the lead and why he didn’t do anything about it. Saitama can get away with goofing off because he always makes it in time. Likewise you give Anos a lot of slack for being slow to the scene when he saves the day but there are times where he doesn’t make it in time.

A big example of this is him telling Misha to go take down a villain near the end of the series but then he just overwhelms her and stabs Misha a bunch until she’s basically dead. Anos eventually shows up to save the day but it doesn’t feel right because he allowed that to happen. He should have put a stop to that way sooner and then there would not have been any problems. Likewise letting his guard down enough for his Mom to be attacked by one of the vengeful villains was also sloppy. When you have a hero who is this broken with a million abilities then any time he doesn’t make it in time feels sketchy. This is something Solo Leveling did really well as the MC was always everywhere using his broken abilities to keep his family safe at all times.

My only other issue with the series is more of a narrative choice. It’s not bad, but as I mentioned before I feel like the plot just ends a little too soon. So a lot of the fun here is in seeing Anos stroll around campus like he owns the place (Because he basically does) but everyone scoffs at him and tries to put him in his place. People don’t know that he is the demon king and that makes for a lot of fun scenarios. By the end of the season this plot can no longer be used which means that the dynamic will be way different. Sure there may be some characters who deny reality but they will be the exceptions rather than the rule. Another season of Anos being the misfit would have been great because there are so many other fun scenarios they could have done with this.

Have him gradually get more and more people to believe him. I’m sure season 2 will still be fun of course and I look forward to what they will do next but I just enjoyed the premise so much. I guess we’ll see if they bring in new fighters who can give Anos a challenge, or more likely he’ll get some new teammates. When Anos sandbags long enough sometimes the villains do actually start to land some hits or put up a good fight. This season had several fights where he did come close to at least a temporary death even if he would regenerate later on. It just takes a whole lot of planning on the villains’ part and also some luck if we’re being honest. If Anos ever goes all out from the start then they don’t stand a chance.

In terms of the soundtrack I would say the show is in the middle. See, the opening and the ending are both great. Easily the highlights of the soundtrack and they have a lot of replay value. The songs are even used during some of the battle scenes which is a lot of fun. However, the themes within the episode aren’t very memorable at all and I would say are probably a little sub par. So enjoy the lyrical tunes but you probably won’t remember the rest of the ost much.

I thought the animation was really sharp. You get a good amount of movement here and a lot of bright attacks. When the show goes into its action phase the anime is able to keep up and that results in some pretty hype moments. The show always looks very modern and I didn’t feel like there were any times where it looked bad. The aesthetic works well for the vibe the show is going for and so you should be very satisfied here.

At its core one last reason why the show is great is because of its replay value. The humor lands so well that you definitely enjoy rewatching some scenes. The dialogue is absolutely on point and while I would never go as far as to say it beats the action scenes, it supports them extremely well. Every time Anos starts a sentence off with “Did you really think…” you know that he’s about to flex on someone yet again. It’s why I included extra images here so you can see some of the variations. It’s part of why this guy is such a great main character. The humor/action blend here is balanced just right so there is always something to enjoy. Mix that in with the fact that the series is really good about avoiding fanservice and you’ve got something that is also easy to recommend to just about anyone.

The show does have some violence to be sure but I’d say it’s never excessive. The two most brutal moments are likely when Anos murders one guy over and over again and then when Misha gets stabbed to death. The former is certainly more violent but because it’s played off as dark humor to an extent you won’t find it as twisted. Still really dark to be sure though. The second isn’t as violent but because you really thought Anos should have protected her and because she’s so defenseless there then it hits a bit harder. On the whole the show is not one that I would say is hard to watch though and is still tame by and large.

There are also other supporting characters I didn’t really talk about much earlier but in general the cast is still on the smaller side for now. I expect we will continue to get new characters from within the school and outside of it. This is the kind of series with enough world building to be a really long franchise so adding more characters definitely makes a lot of sense with that.

Overall, The Misfit of Demon King Academy is definitely a great show. The anime is off to a powerful start right out of the gate and we’ll see if it can keep this up now that the whole status quo will be way different. I’m confident that as long as the writing stays this good there shouldn’t be any problems though. Anos may not be able to surprise everyone anymore like when he entered the underwater battle to save the day but you can probably still work around that with new kingdoms and such. Anos can continue to spread his wise teachings across the land and beat up anyone who gets in his way. That’s the way to go.

Overall 8/10

Riddick Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

This film is definitely very ambitious. It actually does something that I thought was clever which I’ll get into but ultimately it’s squandered away by tons of animal violence throughout the film and another batch of super unlikable characters. Seriously there is at least one character here who really should have gotten taken out way sooner. This is a survival film through and through which doesn’t hold back.

The movie starts off with Riddick stranded on a desert planet. See, he may have been strong back in the day but he’s lost a step once he became king. He allows himself to be suckered by the most obvious traitor of all time and gets absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe this, he really just lost to a super whiny character in a situation that was obviously a trap? Well, Riddick has decided to see the silver lining here and figures he will train until he is ruthless and a super powerful beast again. The first half of the film is about him learning how each of the different wildlife acts and adapting himself in turn. It doesn’t make for a very enjoyable watch but it’s interesting. See I thought the whole film was going to be about this and it would have been an experimental film without much dialogue.

Then the two annoying groups of bounty hunters show up and I realized the angle that I liked here. See, when a group shows up on an alien planet the movie is always about them getting picked off one by one from the mysterious alien creatures and the serial killer on the loose. Well, this time we got to see all of them first and then we’re introduced to the villains. So it was sort of a reverse scenario right there. I like the idea behind it at least but the film doesn’t really make the most of it. First off the original group are basically all villains with no interests greater than their primal desires. One of them wants to assault the heroine from the second film throughout the movie, the main guy just wants the money for capturing and murdering Riddick, the other are here for money.

There isn’t much to these villains and the problem is that the personalities that we do get just aren’t that good. For example the perverted villain should have been murdered several times during the movie. Each time the girl would beat him up which is cool and all but considering his intentions he should have absolutely been murdered the second time. I was hoping Riddick really had sabotaged the equipment room so that as soon as the guy opened it, it would blow up. That would have been fantastic because this guy seriously didn’t contribute anything. Bumping him out of the movie would have been a great idea.

The main villain is your classic coward who can only make a move when everything is in his favor. Otherwise the guy just folds immediately and really isn’t much of a leader. So that leads us to the second group and at least they were decent. The leader is the father of the main villain from the first film and unlike his son he actually seems like a very capable commander. The tension here is wondering if the guy will turn evil and fold at the first sign of adversity like his son or if he will do well to the end. It works as a nice parallel even if you have a general idea of where this will go. The movie does a good job of giving you enough fake-outs and turns to keep you guessing. He was a good character though.

I also liked Dahl who was the lady who kept beating up the first punk. She was tough and could hold her own in a fight. Considering how often she was targeted Dahl did a great job of always watching her back and keeping her gun ready. I just feel like keeping the guy alive was too much of a risk considering that he had no moral compass at all. The rest of the mercenaries are mainly forgettable but in general the team of professionals were way better than the random bunch of bounty hunters.

Riddick was back to looking like a true professional after the opening scene so he was really good here. He perhaps took too many risks though once he tried bartering with the other hunters. I feel like his plan wasn’t very strong when he went off to meet them and could have been picked off at any time. He had the power cores as insurance but even so it was a really big gamble that ultimately didn’t pay off. He lost his dog as a result of his plan after all.

Horrible scene by the way and one of the many moments that doomed this film. The instant he adopted an alien dog I knew things weren’t going well and that’s always rough. It’s come to the point where you don’t want to see an animal in any film because you know that’s going to be used as easy revenge bait. Films need to resist this and yet they have not been able to so far. I need the film to surpass its limits and go away from that but it’s probably going to be a while at this rate. Beyond the dog you also have a lot of creatures getting eaten and ripped to pieces either by Riddick or by other creatures.

It’s one reason why survival films rarely end up being very good because part of the genre is seeing what the heroes are surviving and inevitably that means a bunch of animals are going to die. It’s unfortunate but that’s usually what it boils down to. This film goes back to embracing the violence on a high scale like the first film and definitely gets really excessive. Throw in the sub par cast of character and you really have a losing formula here. It’s easily the weakest of the 3 films so the movie series ends on a sour note.

Overall, There’s no real reason to watch this film. You’re better off watching the original if you want the alien plot or checking out the second one for the lore. Of course all the lore gets thrown out here as they make Riddick look super sloppy to have an excuse for the film 2 cast to beat him up. The opening just makes him look soooo bad. I also feel like it wasn’t smart to change the venue so drastically like this because it makes film 2 completely pointless but I suppose it is what it is. Maybe if we get a 4th film they’ll course correct again and go back to the sci-fi wars of the second film. That would actually be pretty funny but something tells me the 4th film will take a while.

Overall 1/10